ATP San Diego Day 1 Predictions Including Aslan Karatsev vs Federico Delbonis

Aslan Karatsev in action ahead of the ATP Madrid Open.

As a wonderful season is drawing to an end, a last burst of hard court tennis action will be taking us through. The San Diego ATP 250 has been granted a single year license for 2021. Despite being a 250, the draw features big names like Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, Denis Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz. Three-time Grandslam champion Andy Murray is also playing, courtesy a wildcard entry. The tournament will surely serve as a perfect warm-up for the Indian Wells Masters which will be up in a week.

ATP San Diego Day 1 Predictions

Fabio Fognini vs Brandon Nakashima

Head-to-head: First Meeting

Fabio Fognini won his last match on a hard court at the Cincinnati Masters. He dropped out in the first round at the Us Open, losing to Vasek Pospisil in a very tough match. Fognini has previously enjoyed wins on the fast hard courts in the United States. He will try to continue doing that. On the other side of the net, rising American Brandon Nakashima will be raring to get a win here. After he defeated John Isner in straight sets in the first round at the US Open, it became clear that he wasn’t a one match wonder, and was here to stay. Despite a second round loss to Alex Molcan, he has plenty to take home from the match. A point of worry was his inability to close that match, which may hurt him against Fognini too.

At 34 years of age, it is getting clearer by every match that Fabio Fognini doesn’t have too much time left in his career. His fitness is not at its best, and he isn’t moving very well. Out of his recent wins, most are attributed to his experience and mental resolve rather than his game. However, his forehand is still a weapon on fast courts. Nakashima is undoubtedly a great talent, blessed with a solid baseline game. His victory over Isner at the US Open was a result of unrelenting consistency and defense. Against Fognini, however, Nakashima cannot afford to fire from the baseline. He has to be prepared to run back-and-forth all over the court if he wants to win this. I think Fognini’s experience should see him through, but Nakashima will make him work hard.
Prediction: Fognini in 3

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Taylor Fritz vs Salvatore Caruso

Head-to-head: First Meeting

After recovering from injury, Taylor Fritz hasn’t fully discovered his old form. He has one win from his last five matches. However, a positive for him is that the sole win came against higher ranked Alex de Minaur, as he also defended a comeback. Even if his game is not up to the mark, his mental toughness gives him the edge against Caruso. Salvatore Caruso is not exactly an ATP regular, playing more in the challenger circuit. He hasn’t played any tour level match since the US Open, where he bowed out in the first round. Caruso did very well to come through the qualifying draw here, but it feels unlikely that he will upset Fritz.

Fritz is always a superb player on the American hard courts. He has a quick and accurate serve, along with a strong forehand. The amount of unforced errors have been the major factor behind his recent losses. If Fritz can manage to keep them down, he will face no problems going to the next round. Caruso only has a chance if he turns ultra-aggressive. He has very little chance of returning each and every shot from fritz. Caruso has to take the battle to his opponent to stand a chance. In the end, Fritz should take the win here.
Prediction: Fritz in 2

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Aslan Karatsev vs Federico Delbonis

Head-to-head: First Meeting

After his title run at the Dubai Open, Aslan Karatsev has fallen off-radar. However, at the US Open, Karatsev made the third round, where he lost in five sets. It should make him feel better. He has played one match after that, which he lost in straight sets to Emil Ruusuvuori. His opponent, Federico Delbonis isn’t having very pleasing performances either. His last win came at an ATP 250 on clay, against a player ranked #600. Moreover, his last win on a hard court came in 2020.

The pair haven’t met before, and both are struggling to win a match at the moment. Sadly for tennis fans, gone are the days when Karatsev used to leave us spellbound with his raw power and spectacularly aggressive game. His last few matches on hard courts have seen him make unusually high amount of errors. But at least, he has the game to beat the best. The problem has been execution and lack of confidence, as Aslan Karatsev no longer has nothing to lose. Delbonis, with his big forehand swing and heavy topspin, will have results only on clay until he revamps his game. As we saw against Shapovalov at the US Open, he can’t keep up with the pace of the courts. Unless Karatsev messes up something horribly, we will see him advancing to the next round.
Prediction: Karatsev in 2

Main Photo from Getty.

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